Philadelphia 76ers try to bring Brooklyn Nets down

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Nets bench needs to step up; they didn't last time.

The Nets have had two uninspiring games, a late loss to the injury-decimated Bulls and a late win over the lowly Bobcats. Now, come the 76ers (31-45) who surprised Brooklyn the last time the two played a month ago in Philly. In that game, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson played well enough at least on offense, but the Nets couldn't contain Spencer Hawes, who finished with 24, 10 and seven. Nor could they match the Sixers bench.

Since that game, the Sixers are 7-7, with wins over the Pacers and Bucks but for the most part feasting on the carrion of the NBA's worst, including the Kings, Cavaliers and Bobcats. Evan Turner, the No. 2 overall two years ago, has hit his stride, scoring game highs in three of the last five and upping his average to just below 14, giving Philly fans some hope that he wasn't a bust. Jrue Holiday has been wildly inconsistent with games of 9, 7, 5 and 2 to go with games of 27 twice, 21 and 20. Hawes hasn't scored 20 points since he scored 24 vs. the Nets, but in half the 14 games, he's had a double-double. The Sixers are missing two players who are out for the season: Andrew Bynum, Jason Richardson are done and Nick Young just returned Friday after missing all but two of the last 18.

Tough year to be a Sixer fan, having given up Andre Iguodala, Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless and a first round pick for, as it turns out, nothing. The Nets may be without Keith Bogans who is questionable. Joe Johnson is expected to suit up after taking Monday off for rest, but that's not a given. The Nets remain two games up on the Bulls for fourth place and three games behind the Pacers, who remain in third. A Nets loss would ensure the Knicks of the Atlantic Division championship.

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